Russia opposes NATO participation in Libya operation – Medvedev

RIA Novosti / Dmitriy Astakhov
President Dmitry Medvedev has criticized the actions of NATO forces in Libya as being beyond the corresponding UN resolution, but again said that the resolution itself was correct.

­The Russian president’s comments came on Thursday when speaking to journalists in the Chinese city of Sanya, where the Russian leader has been taking part in the annual summit of BRICS nations.

It is the first time the Russian president has criticized the international coalition’s operation against Libyan forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.  

“The resolution itself is absolutely normal but the resolution must be complied with and no one should try to exceed its mandate. This is a very dangerous tendency in international relations,” Medvedev said. “The Security Council resolutions must be fulfilled in accordance with their letter and spirit and not in accordance with free interpretations given by certain states,” he said.  

“What have we agreed to – either by voting for or, at least, by abstaining from the vote? We agreed that the airspace above Libya must be closed and thus the basis is prevented for the intensifying of the conflict, so that the opposing parties could be later drawn apart. But in the result we received, in essence, a military operation that is not yet going on, on land, but is going on in the air with a whole number of countries taking part and in which NATO as a military bloc started to participate in at some point. But the resolution has no mention of anything like this,” Medvedev said.

In an interview with Chinese media before the BRICS summit Dmitry Medvedev said that the situation in Libya is difficult as it is not controlled by Gaddafi’s forces, nor the so-called opposition, nor NATO.

The Russian leader criticized Gaddafi for the actions that could be qualified as crimes against the civilian population but he also said that the coalition’s use of force was excessive and not very productive.

“The operation to block the airspace, to close the skies, has acquired very peculiar forms because it has, in essence, gone down to use of force. Nevertheless, it has yielded no result and, as far as I understand, everybody now has different plans. Europeans say one thing, Americans say another, one time they say that they will take part and another time they say they will not. The rebels are not controlling the situation either as they have no opportunities for that. The situation has got out of control and this is very sad,” the Russian president said.

In late March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov already made it clear that the resolution on Libya gives no right to the Western powers to deliver preemptive strikes on Colonel Gaddafi’s military forces. “We argue that the coalition's interference in an internal civil war is, in fact, not sanctioned by the UN Security Council's resolution,” the Russian minister said.

Russia abstained in the UN Security Council vote on the resolution authorizing the use of force in Libya, but president Medvedev amended the Russian legislation in accordance with the resolution, banning the sales of arms to Libya and also refusing Gaddafi and his close circle the right to enter the Russian Federation. At the same time, Russian officials have repeatedly criticized the resolution and warned that it could lead to a lengthy war with numerous casualties.